Court Strikes Down FCC Ban on Political Ads on Public TV

Apr 12, 2012  •  Post A Comment

In a move that could open up the public airwaves to a flood of campaign advertising, a federal appeals court has struck down the FCC’s ban on political ads on public TV and public radio, Reuters reports.

The story reports: “By a 2-1 vote, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the Federal Communications Commission violated the First Amendment’s free speech clause by blocking public broadcasters from running political and public issue ads.

“The court said the ban was over broad and that lifting it would not threaten to undermine the educational nature of public broadcast stations. It upheld a ban on ads for goods and services on behalf of for-profit companies.”

In the majority opinion, Judge Carlos Bea wrote: "Public issue and political speech in particular is at the very core of the First Amendment’s protection. Public issue and political advertisements pose no threat of ‘commercialization.’ By definition, such advertisements do not encourage viewers to buy commercial goods and services. A ban on such advertising therefore cannot be narrowly tailored to serve the interest of preventing the ‘commercialization’ of broadcasting."

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